The ‘I-word’

Emily DiSalvo

House Democrats have deemed President Donald Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president concerning enough to open an impeachment inquiry, but some Quinnipiac students are uncertain how this investigation is any different than the previous ones.

“Knowing that he has done so many things in the past, or allegedly has done so many things in the past and nothing has happened, it’s kind of like the norm to hear, ‘Oh, what did he do today?’” Shania Mahabee, freshman biomedical sciences major, said.

[media-credit name=”Wikicommons” align=”alignnone” width=”300″][/media-credit]A whistleblower filed a complaint with the intelligence inspector general in August, and on Sept. 19, the Washington Post revealed the complaint involved a phone call with Ukraine. Days later, Trump said that in a phone call with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he discussed an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who had previously done business in Ukraine.

Trump wanted his acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to halt military aid to Ukraine one week before this controversial phone call, according to the Washington Post.

Trump agreed to release a version of the transcript of the call with Ukraine on Sept. 23, and the next day, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi opened an impeachment inquiry into whether Trump was withholding aid from Ukraine to motivate the country to look into Biden, a Democratic primary frontrunner in the 2020 race.

Scott McLean, chair of the department of philosophy and political science, said the phone call Trump had with the Ukranian leader is more significant than any previous charge against the president.

“This is a different situation than what we were talking about up until now,” McLean said. “It would hurt the Democrats to impeach Trump, but I think these charges are so simple, clear-cut and the fact that Trump has admitted to all of us, it has him literally saying – in a very short document – exactly what he was accused of doing.”

Supporters of Trump, however, think this investigation will be no more successful than the Russia probe, which culminated when Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his report in April 2019.

“This is yet another impeachment trying where they are trying after they failed with the Russian probe and I feel like it’s just another political game,” Matthew Bruin, sophomore journalism and political science double major, said.

Bruin said Trump’s motivation behind bringing up Joe Biden in the phone call had nothing to do with undermining a potential 2020 rival, but rather getting to the bottom of Hunter Biden’s business in Ukraine and how Joe Biden was involved.

“I don’t think Trump was doing this in any political fashion to try to get any dirt,” Bruin said. “It is important for them to investigate this if a sitting vice president did do this.”

Other students, though, have no idea that the president of the United States is being investigated for potentially impeachable offenses.

“I don’t really follow politics,” Mark Venice, freshman business undeclared major, said. “I don’t really care about it. It’s probably important but it’s boring to me.”

McLean stressed the importance of being informed about this particular moment in American history.

“This is a real inflection point in democracy and it’s really going to be a question if the checks and balances system really works or if it’s severely broken to the extent that we would just be a constitutional democracy in name only,” McLean said. “That’s why I think the stakes are really high.”

While McLean and House leadership agreed that stakes are higher now than ever, some Quinnipiac students are uncertain if now was the right time to open the inquiry.

“I think it was too soon because we should have waited for details to emerge,” Nate Latino, freshman accounting major, said. “I do think the Democrats by doing that are going to screw themselves in 2020 because you are going to motivate more Republicans to go out and vote.”

McLean said that these charges are so serious that Republicans would actually suffer politically if the GOP-controlled Senate fails to convict Trump in an impeachment trial.

“You can’t get any more of a crystal clear impeachable offense than this,” McLean said. “And to top it off, he’s admitted to all of it.”

Again, some students disagree. Daniel Kuna, freshman accounting major, said Trump has done a mixture of good and bad things in office, but the illegality of his actions is anything but “crystal clear.”

“I have no clue if he has done anything illegal,” Kuna said. “There has been so many rumors. I don’t know if they are true or not.”

Justin Kemp, junior computer science major, said he’s been following the whistleblower saga and thinks this was the right time to open an impeachment inquiry. He encouraged other students to learn more about the inquiry.

“I think it is important because it has implications for everyone’s life,” Kemp said. “When politicians are involved in sketchy or even illegal stuff it’s problematic so I think that’s why people should know about it.”

The Mueller investigation endured for three years, but in a matter of days, the whisteblower’s complaint has moved the House of Representatives to take more action than the 448-page report.

The whistleblower report has also moved the American people. According to a Quinnipiac Poll, voters are evenly split 47%-47% on whether Trump should be impeached and removed from office. Just a week prior, 37% thought he should be impeached and removed.

McLean said this situation is different than the Mueller report because it shows collusion occuring while he was in office, whereas the Mueller report involved his actions on the campaign trail.

“Everyone knew Trump was shady before he was elected,” McLean said. “That was part of the reason he was elected–because he didn’t play by the rules.”